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Eight Welsh initiatives aim to help public services innovate and save money

  • Local innovators funded to develop ideas
  • Innovate to Save inspires collaborations to tackle pressing social challenges

Thursday, 10 August 2017 - Eight Welsh organisations have today received funding from the £5 million Innovate to Save fund that will accelerate innovation in public services - improving services and generating cash savings. It is run by Y Lab (a collaboration between innovation foundation Nesta and Cardiff University) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action and funded by the Welsh Government.

The programme supports public and third sector organisations to prototype, trial and scale new projects to improve public services, from community gardening to support health and wellbeing to transitional services for young people leaving care. Support is given through a mix of grant funding, repayable loans and non-financial support like business or mentoring support. Research evidence will be gathered on each of the projects as they progress.
Some of the innovators are:

  • Grow Cardiff, £11,340 - Grow Cardiff supports local people across the city to engage in community gardening to support their health and well-being. Working with 11 GP surgeries in South West Cardiff, they aim to measure and develop this idea; helping people with a range of conditions to reconnect with people, low-level physical activity and their food via growing.

  • Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, £15,000 - this collaboration between the trust, health board and local authority bodies in North Wales provides free transport to people with community access or social care needs. By pooling data from each organisation - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Gwynedd County Council and Wrexham County Council - the aim is to streamline the delivery of non-emergency patient transport and build a long-term, sustainable service. It is supported by ODI Cardiff.

  • Innovate Trust, £15,000 - Innovate Trust provides a supported living service for 275 people with learning disabilities to enable them to live in the community. It works with Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan local authorities. They will explore how Intelligent Personal Assistants (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) might support people with disabilities who use their services, reducing the need for staff to be constantly present in their homes and thus reducing costs.

  • FABRIC, £13,574 - this Swansea-based social enterprise provides accommodation and support to young people aged 16 and 17 year olds who are Looked After Children or Care Leavers. To help young adults transition out of care safely at 18, its pilot will explore how a semi-independent accommodation service will reduce the risk of social isolation, improving both individual outcomes and the flow of people through the local authority system.

  • Gwynedd Council, £15,000 - Fairbourne is a coastal village that is currently subject to a shoreline management plan due to the risk of flooding caused by climate change. To support and maintain the small coastal community, a Community Interest Company will be set up to explore how the housing stock in the village can continue to be utilised in new ways; maintaining the community while also removing the barriers which are preventing those wishing to leave. The project will look at the feasibility of using any new housing stock as part of the local authority’s statutory provision.

Rob Ashelford, senior innovation programmes manager at Nesta said: “Faced with growing demand and resource scarcity, public servants must reimagine the way they deliver the services that citizens need. From joining up with local charities to preventing unnecessary interventions and helping regional authorities act more swiftly, the projects announced today have the potential to be rolled out across the UK. I’m excited not only by their ideas, but also by the evident opportunities for greater collaboration between public and third sector bodies.”

Welsh Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “At a time of reducing budgets, we must all think and work differently if we are to maintain the level of public services people require. These eight projects will receive support through our Innovate to Save fund to collaborate with other organisations and bring forward innovative pilots. Not only will these generate savings which can be re-invested but they will improve services and outcomes for people across Wales.”

Projects will be supported over the next six months and progress will be shared on an ongoing basis via the Nesta website.


Notes to Editors:

The remaining Innovate to Save participants are:

  • Cardiff South West GP Cluster, £14,997 - this GP Cluster will explore how time credits can be prescribed for people low level depression and anxiety, leading to a reduction in the amount of medication prescribed for these conditions. Time Credits recognise the time a person spends helping a community - for every hour spent volunteering, another can be spent of something a person enjoys.

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability, £15,000 - LCD is the UK's largest pan-disability charity providing practical care and personalised support to disabled people. By creating a “Prime Members Club”, it wants people receiving personal or social care payments to be offered a range of group-based and community activities that they can choose from. Not only will money be saved by replacing some 1-1 carer support but people will have greater choice over how money is spent.

  • Llamau, £15,000 - Llamau is a charity dedicated to preventing youth homelessness. It will pilot a new sustainable social investment funding model. By scaling one of its most successful projects – Symud Ymlaen/Moving Forward (SY/MF) – they aim to evidence and share the cash savings generated by their work and, to build a sustainable service, they will use these insights to negotiate future arrangements between charities and the public sector.

Full case studies are available online here.

Images and interviews available on request

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation.  We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills.  We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities.  We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment.  To find out more visit

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

For more information contact Kasia Murphy in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2610/2543,  [email protected]

About Y Lab: Y Lab is a partnership between Cardiff University and Nesta to form a public services innovation lab for Wales. It aims to promote experimentation and a trials-based
approach to the development of public services, drawing on expertise and capacity from Nesta and Cardiff University.

About Cardiff University: Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems.